Two letters to City Council regarding Transit

1. Dear Councillor Stintz: February 1, 2012

Thank you for your courageous stand on doing what is right for the people of Toronto regarding the kind of transit that is suitable right now and is the best and most affordable for the most people. I saw the quote of your remarks in the media when you were asked why you are taking a stand against the mayor and I think it is marvelous – you are a true democrat. You said, “We’re elected to make decisions on behalf of everybody in the city, and if we only have so much money, we need to make sure we spend it in the best way we can.”

I am very disappointed in the way that some of the other TTC commissioners, ‘blindsided you’ as the media reported.

I heard on the radio – the mayor speaking in Scarborough today, trying to defend his underground transit. He pointed to the traffic gridlock behind him on Eglinton Ave. as a way to defend his subway plan. What he didn’t tell the people was that he has no promised revenue coming from Queen’s Park or Ottawa to pay for subways, and privatge money may not be forthcoming since the necessary density to support a subway is many years away. So the residents of Scarborough and every other suburb of Toronto are going to wait a long time for transit. The mayor’s argument about present gridlock is just as much of an argument for surface transit since it will alleviate gridlock in a much more timely fashion.

My wife and I have ridden on lrt’s in some of Europe’s smaller cities and they are extremely functional with entrances at ground level and a fare system that allows passengers to enter by any door, so crowds are easily handled. Their rights of way are beautiful, often with grass growing between the rails. They may not go as fast as a subway but an lrt is far more flexible in terms of station locations and any changes of station placements needed in the future.

But the major benefit of lrt’s is their lower cost and quicker installation. Besides if Council actually cancels Transit City there will be millions of cancellation fees for taxpayers to pay.

2. Dear Councillor Ford and Mayor Ford: January 1, 2012
BCC: Toronto Councillors

Sorry, I cannot agree with your assessment of Transit City surface trains vs. underground trains.

Firstly, Transit City was part of a well thought out plan to provide energy efficient transit under the 2007 ‘Climate Change, Clean Air and Sustainable Energy Action Plan’, to the maximum number of Torontonians at a low cost, given no promises of big revenues coming from the Federal or Provincial governments for underground transit expansion. One man, even the Mayor had no business cancelling that and Premier McGuinty had no business agreeing to the cancellation – if that is what happened. In fact Mr. McGuinty said that any changed agreement must pass a vote of City Council which has not occurred yet.

My wife and I have seen and ridden on surface transit trains in some smaller European cities and they are wonderful – with ground level entry – unlike Toronto’s current streetcars. With their own right-of way, surface transit well outstrips auto traffic in speed. Surface transit is also much more flexible for planning and even changing station stops. They are plenty fast enough given that Torontonians are not going to see expanded underground transit any time soon. With both the Federal and Provincial governments embarking on austerity programs, underground transit expansion is not going to happen in this generation.

Given climate change that we can see right now with this ‘non-winter’ we need Transit City to be built as soon as possible so that residents can see that they can move around without using the fossil fuelled car which is one of the machines that is destroying our atmosphere and climate. Please restore Toronto and the Province’s commitment to Transit City. It is what most Toronto residents want.

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About Murray Lumley

Board member of Conscience Canada; Christian Peacemaker Teams Reservist; retired teacher; grandfather
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